The Seattle Times Co., which owns two daily newspapers in Eastern Washington, has just announced that it is putting up for sale its building for the Yakima Herald-Republic, moving the offices to a smaller space and shifting the printing operations to the other Times-owned paper, the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. The Yakima paper says it no longer needs such a big building and has lost several printing contracts and tenants in the building. Hence the consolidation and cost-cutting.
The Times is also cutting back its rented space in Seattle. For the past several years the paper has been renting four floors in a nondescript building adjacent to the old (now gone) Seattle Times building on Denny Way in South Lake Union. The move will shrink the rented space to one floor, a result of ongoing cuts in staffing as well as many employees working remotely during the pandemic. I asked the Times if there were personnel cuts to the Seattle paper lurking in these changes, and Alan Fisco, the company president and CFO, released this answer:
“We have consolidated operations to a single floor in our Denny location based on reductions in staffing we have experienced over the course of our 10-year lease and the intention to embrace a hybrid work model as we go forward. Our teams have adapted very well to remote work and we intend to continue that in some form once we return to in-office work. This consolidation is not tied to a general reduction in workforce numbers.”
As for those workforce numbers in Seattle, the paper noted, “There have not been reductions in the newsroom. In fact we are in the process of adding a few positions this year. That brings our total staff members in news to approximately 160 people.”
Meanwhile, the loss of printing facilities in Yakima will lay off 50 full and part-time employees, some of whom may find work in the Walla Walla plant. The consolidation of space in Seattle is another indication of the space-shrinking in many businesses in downtown Seattle.